In August 2019, my husband and I took an unforgettable trip to South Africa. We spent two weeks learning about culture, apartheid, reconciliation, multiculturalism, and more. The big international airport in South Africa is called Tambo International Airport. Mr. O. R. Tambo, the airport’s namesake, was a contemporary of Nelson Mandela and, like him, worked to end apartheid.
I was reminded of my trip to South Africa recently when I read Rev. Jim Harnish’s reflection on Mark 6:1-13. When Jim was in the Tambo airport, he saw a mural of an African proverb (actually, it was an ad for a bank) that said: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
This African proverb sums up the essence of what it means to be part of a church.
Jesus sends out the twelve apostles “two by two” (Mark 6:7-13). Jesus did not send them out individually. The apostles were sent, not to go fast, but to go far, spiritually speaking.
You might say they were sent to do ministry two-gether. See what I did there?
This is a subtle, but important moment in the Gospel of Mark. Until this point, everything has been about following Jesus. Here, the apostles are sent out to proclaim the good news that God is at work in the world.
These were ordinary people who were empowered by Jesus to go out and do the work of God.
Jesus tells them to do it and he empowers them to do it. It’s kind of shocking, really—ordinary people being given a mandate and the power to do the work of God.
Even more shocking, perhaps, is the realization that this is the definition of church. We are ordinary people given a mandate and the power to do the work of God.
Because God wants us to go far (spiritually), God has given us to each other so that we can go together.
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